Interview: Demi Whitnell of Soft Limit

Interview: Demi Whitnell of Soft Limit

Firstly, can you please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Demi Whitnell, a BA English graduate from London. I’m a Capricorn, a plant mum, a published poet and writer as well as an advocate for sex education and liberation of sex discussion. I identify as a womxn, queer and go by the pronouns she/her.

What exactly is Soft Limit? What is the story behind it? What does it represent? What does ‘Soft Limit’ mean? You’re a writer as well so why a podcast and not a blog, for example?

Soft Limit originally started as a radio show at QMUL through Quest Radio, now Soft Limit is a podcast and social media platform dedicated to sexual expression and liberation through discussion. When Soft Limit was a mere radio show, guests would join me to discuss topics on a weekly basis, now Soft Limit has an Instagram upload schedule and uploads twice weekly on Spotify and Anchor. Due to Covid-19, I have had to produce and present shows on my own, but as regulations begin to loosen, guests are soon to be making weekly appearances alongside myself.

‘Soft Limit’ is a BDSM term for boundaries, it represents the boundaries during a sex scene which are fluid and may be up for discussion in the future. In contrast, ‘Hard Limits’ are boundaries that are not on the table, sexual acts which an individual would never engage in. I decided on Soft Limit as the name of my platform because as much like the definition, I wish to allow my educational journey, both my own and others, to be fluid. People may change their mind through my work, they may try or learn new things through my work, as well as they do not need to agree with everything I post or educate them on. Soft Limit is a platform in which YOU decide how much you wish to take from it.

I am a writer, I mostly write lifestyle articles and poetry. However, I was a guest on @dontsaysex ‘s YouTube series Sex Chat, and through verbally communicating with someone about sex, I discovered that I indeed had a voice for sex discussion. I had written for CUB Magazine, in relation to sex and relationships, however, I felt liberated by using my voice, not hiding behind a screen and instead, making myself vulnerable for audiences and in fact, many people have come forward saying that through my platform, they too feel liberated and feel to discuss sex openly. I still enjoy writing about sex, evident through my interviews, blogs and posts, however, this is something challenging for me, as a dyslexic individual with a speech impediment, it has been extremely freeing to tackle my insecurities.

What made you want to speak about sex?

During my education, I was bullied by students my own age for being open about my sexual desires, my sexuality and this caused many scars. However, through bullying and sexual harassment, I discovered that educating myself was the best thing I could do. Arming myself with knowledge of sex and gender meant those bullies did not have a leg to stand on and to this day, I believe in knowledge. I want to educate others who may be in a similar place as I was, to arm them to my best ability.

What has people’s reactions been so far? Can you tell us both the feedback you received from your new audience and people around you?

Followers online love what I have created, I have had many people come to me telling me that I had inspired them to be confident about sex, to not be fearful especially as a womxn, to discuss sex. The most positive reactions have been from fellow female sex educators in the same scene as myself. My family are proud of what I have created but choose to not listen to my content which, I am completely okay with. My partner has been the biggest support, helping me with logo designs, equipment, mixing and editing, and even creating my podcast theme music. We discuss everything I post or speak about, not only to make sure that we are both comfortable but to debate and educate one another, I have learnt so much about his morals through this project.

The only negative aspect of this type of work, which I know many other womxn in this scene has experienced including myself, is receiving images or texts from (typically) men, who believe that because my mind and soul is open, my legs are too. I have discussed this before and I sadly believe, it will be an issue I tackle until the end of time. Misogyny sadly goes hand in hand with this business, and it is something I wish to change through my unapologetic manner.

Soft Limits is not only a podcast but also a brand on social media. Can you explain your daily themes on social media?

I have a weekly schedule for Soft Limit’s Instagram, which is as follows:

MASTURBATION MONDAY- discusses all things masturbation from tips to myths to health.

TITILATING TUESDAY- discusses female hygiene and health. (includes trans women)

WOODY WEDNESDAY- discusses male hygiene and health. (includes trans men)

TOXIC THURSDAY- discusses toxic relationships and traits, how to spot and deal with them, including when you are the toxic individual.

FREAKY FRIDAY – discusses all things kinky, from BDSM to health and safety, to the history of kink culture.

SAFE SATURDAY- discusses safety within sex scenes, from health to diseases to consent.

SEX ED SUNDAY – discusses how sex education is taught throughout the world, looking at countries, faiths, genders and society in general.

In addition, I also create SEX DICTIONARY posts which explore key sex words in depth.

Some questions on the topic of sex for our readers to have a sneak peek into your views and your platform:

Why do you think the prejudice against speaking about sex exists? Why do you think it is essential to talk about sex openly? How do you think people can get past the uncomfortable feeling of speaking about sex?

In the instance of Britain, we have a very reserved view in relation to sex, gender and identity. We are a country who likes to keep those things private, and now the new generation is ripping those traditions apart, which is extremely liberating. Additionally, as a womxn, I believe misogyny and internalized misogyny has restricted us from discussing sex openly. We feel as if it is a huge dirty secret when, in fact, sex is perhaps one of the only things that tie nearly every single individual and animal on this planet together.

I believe the best way to break this entrapment is to educate yourself. Find the words to allow yourself to discuss sex openly. Be inspired by celebrities, historians, artists, family and friends. Rewire your brain. Get to know the real you, once you know your own sexual identity, liberation through discussion will follow.

Around what age do you think people should start receiving sex education?

I believe sex education should start at a young age, in primary school, for sure. I do believe that education should be altered depending on the age group. However, there are ways we can begin to teach sex to a younger generation, and in turn, this will break the cycle of inferior sex education.

In my opinion, ages 8+ should learn consent, not in the sexual understanding at this age but the general idea of ‘NO MEANS NO’. I also believe that beginning to understand gender and sexuality at a young age is essential, to begin to rewire the stereotypes of boy and girl. This has come from my own experience with my younger brothers who are 8 and 12, both have no understanding of sex outside of ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ and anything that they do know, is from YouTube. I believe that they are both mature enough to be taught sex education which is catered to their age bracket.

What is your view on labels, both labels of sexual orientation and sexual terms like vanilla or kinky or switch? Are they necessary? What are their harms or benefits? What is their contribution to personality & sexual identity?

I HATE labels personally. As someone who has been through every label in the LGBTQ umbrella, from straight to bisexual to pansexual… now I prefer to just refer to myself as queer, which is, yes, a label but one that is far less restrictive. I believe that for some people, labels can feel comforting, like a family and I completely respect that. However, from my own experiences with being erased by many communities, I find it easier to just exist without restrictive labels. The reasoning behind that is I found myself being alienated from labels that I wished to be part of. I felt like I had to prove that I belonged and for someone who already struggles with imposter syndrome and body dysmorphia, it was too much.

For me, I felt that, especially when I identified as Bi and Pan, that I became almost ‘not real’. I was erased both through my sexuality by people who didn’t understand or believed. I was merely greedy and erased through my desire to fit into those labels, to be visually bi or pan which I have spoken about with CUB Magazine before:

Can you tell us about some sex & BDSM myths?

‘Girls don’t masturbate’- This is entirely false and is part of internalized misogyny in girls. We believe that we cannot experience sexual desire without a man so the act of self-pleasure is a sin. To break this cycle of internalized misogyny, discuss masturbating with your friends, learn about misogyny related to female self-pleasure, rewire your own understanding.

‘People who engage in BDSM are mentally unstable’- This is psychologically disproven, and in fact, men who engage in BDSM are mentally stronger than those who don’t. They are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or anger-related disorders. This is just a trope that film, literature and novels use to develop their characters and unfortunately, society has taken this as truth and the stigma has stuck.

How important are sex and the conversation of sex in a relationship? Would different preferences in bed or minimal sexual attraction with a partner someone is romantically attracted affect the relationship negatively?

Sex is the most important conversation you can have with your partner. Boundaries, likes and dislikes, safe words all must be discussed before you have even thought about engaging in sex. Understanding one another’s sexual boundaries will never affect the relationship negatively because if someone engages in an act you do not wish to participate in, and they react with anger, leave that relationship instantly. Discussion around sex should be as mundane as deciding what’s for dinner. By applying an open space for sexual discussion, to voice issues or desires freely without the fear of the other person’s reaction, you will have the most fulfilling and non-toxic relationship that is possible.

Are there any books (both educative and fictional), movies and tv series you recommend on sex education and BDSM? Are there any you recommend for people to NOT to read/ watch?

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given is my bible and everyone should pick a copy up right now… or listen to my podcast episode about it!

Do not watch Fifty Shades of Grey with the concept of using it as guidance for your own BDSM adventures. As I explore in my dissertation, this film is dangerous to impressionable and naive individuals, check out my podcast episodes coming shortly, exploring more of my hate towards this film and novels!

Finally, what are your future aims with Soft Limit? Can you give us a little teaser into the topics you’re planning on talking about in the next few episodes? What do you see in its future, as well as your own future, as a recent graduate?

I am currently undergoing my RSE, which I will complete in September meaning I can teach sex education in school environments as well as being accredited to teach sex education, in general. I would love to transform the platform into a career, perhaps leap onto YouTube or a book (which would be a dream!), as well as creating merch.

My overall goal for Soft Limit is simple, I would love to be able to create a platform that enables people with free sex education and provides a safe space for discussion. I would love to continue to work with charities on giveaways and events, perhaps public speaking events, too. I want to eradicate this uncomfortable-ness around sex and in order to do that, I have to make myself vulnerable and seen.

Keep an eye out for ‘My boyfriend buys my first sex toy’ on Spotify and Anchor shortly! That will definitely be a head-turner!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for Feather Pen readers. We can’t wait to see what else you’ve got in store for us.

Check out Soft Limit on Anchor, Spotify and Instagram:

Anchor: @soft_limit

Spotify: Soft Limit

Instagram: @soft__limit

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